Heading into 2022, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, Alphabet and Meta accounted for 25% of the S&P 500. Last year, they fueled the stock market to record highs. Now, they’re responsible for dragging the market down: along with Nvidia and Netflix, they represent 46% of the S&P 500’s total losses this year, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
While the S&P 500 has fallen 18.2% this year, its former stars have dropped even more, with Netflix down 70%, Meta down 43%, Nvidia down 42%, and Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, and Alphabet all down between 23% and 36%. But a version of the benchmark that shows each of those stocks with equal weighting is down only 13% for 2022, showcasing just how top-heavy those stocks are causing the benchmark to be, the article contends.
When it became clear late last year that inflation wasn’t going away any time soon, tech stocks were hit hard. As the Fed raises interest rates, growth stocks get slammed because their valuations are based on future growth. And while it’s still a question mark as to how high the Fed will raise rates, investors are scrambling to find the right path forward. If inflation doesn’t ease and the Fed raises rates even higher than expected, that would batter the heaviest stocks even more, and possibly create a recession.
Investors have long favored the more expensive stocks from fast-growing companies, many of them in the tech industry, over the slower-growing businesses whose stocks were cheaper. The pandemic fueled those investors even more as the WFH movement powered those tech companies, the article explains. But now, as investors sell those pricey stocks they purchased and opt for cheaper value stocks, many analysts believe that big tech’s moment is over. And the Russell 1000 indexes follows that thinking: the Value index is down 10% this year while its Growth counterpart is down 27%. Meanwhile, the stocks now holding up the S&P 500 are energy giants Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, all up more than 40%, and pharmaceutical stars Merck & Co. and AbbiVie Inc, up 20% and 12% respectively. With higher inflation and interest rates, the environment is simply better for value stocks.
The tech giants aren’t the only ones dragging down the S&P 500; 136 of the benchmark’s companies closed recently at 52-week lows—more than a quarter of the index’s membership. Target and Walmart also plummeted 25% and 11% respectively as supply-chain disruptions and inflation eroded profits. But some market watchers say that the drop in tech stocks has created a buying opportunity. Companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet “are going to do really well for many…years going forward,” says Tony Roth, CIO at Wilmington Trust. “They provide the…backbone for the digital economy now and…the entire economy’s been digitized.”